The mind of a solo parent is like a one legged duck trying to swim. I am in constant turmoil with what the right thing to say or do might be and my biggest concern is trying so hard to shower them with enough love, acceptance, and encouragement from both their dad and I.
We are a sports family. We live and breathe whichever sport is in season and usually more than one sport at a time. I have 3 athletes. I am not bragging, but I will tell you that as a sports mom there is a difference between a kid who just wants the comradery of a team and a kid who is out there to develop as an athlete. I have 3 athletes. Is this healthy at their ages to say that they always want the win? To say that they watch video after video to improve a move, a lift, a tackle, a skill? To say that they want to miss fun outings to go to extra trainings? I have always believed that it is what has kept my sons grounded and engaged.
I was a very small part of the Twisters Soccer Dynasty of Owasso, OK. We were good before there was club ball…before there was multi-level competitive. My parents divorced shortly after we had won our first state title. My husband used to tease me that we were the only 3rd grade team in the state at that time. He could tease because while I was backing off of team sports to help my mom out, he was trudging forward in every sport available. We decided about the only sport he wasn’t good at was soccer because he never played it…until we joined an adult co-ed league. My husband grew up in Texas where football was serious business, and his family chose Owasso for him to graduate from because of the baseball program. My boys are surrounded by men who were college athletes. This is what they all want.
Now comes the hard part for a mom. I’m not a man. I don’t know the ins and outs of the locker room. I don’t know when it is appropriate for me to step in and ask a coach advice for applications, exactly how much money should be spent on ID camps and recruiters, and whether or not a good Division 1 school with a little offer vs. a good NAIA school with a better offer will translate well when they apply for their first real job. I’m not in the coaches ears like some dads, and I don’t have time to volunteer like some moms unless it’s behind the scenes. There are politics in sports but my kids know that their dedication and hard work are what will get them the spot on the team. Nothing else.
I don’t always have the right advice for my boys when they feel down about their performance. My husband was a musician as well but didn’t learn guitar until he was a teen. I know this could apply to any child’s interests. They are extremely hard on themselves in all aspects of life and those are the moments that no matter what I say, it wouldn’t matter. Dr. Jill Bolte talks about a 90 second rule for emotional response. I have been trying to use this time with my boys. My initial thoughts are usually the exact opposite of how they are feeling about a situation, so if I just sit in the moment with them and let them unpack their thoughts they tend to get more rational as time passes. If I’m being honest, this is completely unnatural and super hard yet incredibly beneficial.
When we lost Shane, he had coached every one of the boys’ sports except our youngest. He had only had the pleasure of watching him play his first few little bunch ball YMCA basketball seasons and he had watched him break his first boards at his Little Dragons karate class. My boys have never lost the desire to be involved in a team. We are blessed by our sports families and while it is a lot of work for everyone, I have found that we are indeed a family. I know that someday when my boys have their own children, they will have plenty of funny travel stories to tell and life lessons to share no matter what their kids want to be involved in. My oldest sister and her husband have traveled the states with my boys helping me support them. My boys have traveled alone with their teams when needed. This was a huge anxiety trigger for me, but I know how much they learned in branching out.
So, why am I rambling about this? I want to you to know you are not alone if you are a widow raising men. There are people out there who will have a heart for your kids. Pray for them. Pray for the men who cross their paths and the influence that they will have on them. Pray for open communication between your budding athlete and yourself. That your kids will tell you when they need you and that you have the willpower to keep your distance and let them soar. This is the hardest part for me. I want to fix everything for them. I want to tell the parents who don’t see their kids doing great things to take note of every encouragement they offer a teammate after a tough loss, every team prayer they offer to lead, every borrowed sock or shinguard, and every handshake. I want to tell the tryhard parents that their child will make a name for themselves if you just trust the process and let them. I want to tell them to not cheapen the experience for their child.
I feel like the hardest part for me as a mom has been to TRUST those around me. Not everyone is out for your child’s best interest if it hinders their own agenda, but I have to trust that God’s plan is bigger than any agenda. The verse he laid on my heart after losing Shane will continue to hold true even when my heart is giving all it can and it doesn’t always feel like enough.
He will cover us with His feathers and under His wings we will find refuge. Psalms 91:4